Member Monday: Katie Twardak

Description of your practice:
I am a plaintiff’s personal injury attorney representing injured individuals and their families in all areas of personal injury, with a primary focus in medical malpractice.

Why are you a member of the WBAI?
I am a member of the WBAI because it is a remarkable community comprised of confident, thoughtful, ambitious women who support one another both personally and professionally. I became much more involved with the WBAI in the spring of 2019 after joining my firm, Tomasik Kotin Kasserman, LLC (TKK). As I was the only female attorney at TKK until very recently, it was important to me that I surround myself with like-minded women whose focus was on the development and empowerment of women. I immediately found that WBAI programming facilitated the development and empowerment of women by providing networking opportunities, and those opportunities have allowed me to cultivate meaningful relationships with others while strengthening my professional network.

Since becoming a Director of the WBAI this year, I have been continually impressed by the WBAI Board’s commitment to all issues that affect female attorneys, especially the gender gap that is still very present in the legal profession. That gender gap became even more apparent since Covid-19 struck earlier this year, and my fellow Board members have striven to provide female attorneys access to opportunities through programming, including through CLE programming.

What do you think is the best way to empower women in law? 
I think the best way to empower women in law is to provide them with access to opportunities. However, access in and of itself does not automatically mean that a woman – or any individual – will be successful. I believe every person requires mentoring in some form, whether it be regular formal check-in meetings with a mentor or another attorney merely taking that female attorney under his or her wings and showing her the ropes. Advocacy on behalf of a female attorney I believe goes hand-in-hand with mentorship but requires that a mentor take an active role in the mentee’s career, which is sometimes more complex than it sounds. However, when done right, mentorship and advocacy can have, in my own experience at least, a lasting impact on a person’s career – and life.

What are the qualities you have seen and admired in a senior female attorney you know? 
My own mentor is the person that comes to mind when I think of the qualities that I admire in a senior attorney. She began working at my prior firm shortly after I had been sworn in as an attorney and brought an entire book of business with her. Even though I was brand new and still learning, she trusted me to handle cases that, at the time, I did not know if I was equipped to handle. Looking back, I realize she was providing me with opportunities, and that it was up to me to then take advantage of them. She spent countless hours mentoring and indirectly teaching me the nuances of our work, which I absorbed through osmosis. While I had seen other more senior attorneys not allow their associates access to clients, my mentor routinely had me attend events with clients with her and encouraged me to communicate with clients and cultivate my own relationships with them. She even advocated on my behalf by suggesting to clients that they send cases directly to me so that I might begin to develop my own book of business. My mentor taught me by showing me – rather than telling me –how to be an excellent attorney. All the while, she was a friend who always had my back and supported me both personally and professionally.

What are you most looking forward to in the following year, personally/professionally?
My husband and I are due with our first baby in March 2021, so I am very much looking forward to that adventure and the many ways she will keep us on our toes during her first year of life. Obviously being pregnant – and then delivering a baby – during Covid-19 was not a part of our plan; however, it has reminded me of the importance of appreciating the little moments in life and going with the flow as much as possible.

From a professional standpoint, I am looking forward to continuing to learn and implement innovative techniques to zealously represent my clients as the pandemic has forced us to do much of our work virtually. Covid-19 certainly has forced each of us to adjust our practices, but has made me see the importance of being flexible and willing to try new things.

Tell us something interesting about you.
I have always loved to cook but never put much thought into all the work that goes into growing the ingredients I use when I cook. Since my husband and I were not going to be traveling at all this summer and would be working remotely much of the time, I decided to plant three raised garden beds in June, which are full of fresh veggies and herbs that are finally just about ready to be harvested and prepared in our kitchen! I can’t say that I actually have developed a green thumb, but it has been a fun summer activity that I hope to develop into a real hobby!